Beyond MOOCs: Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions

Link: Beyond MOOCs Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions (PDF)
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Executive Summary

The key opportunity for institutions is to take the concepts developed by the MOOC experiment to date and use them to improve the quality of their face-to-face and online provision, and to open up access to higher education. Most importantly, the understanding gained should be used to inform diversification strategies including the development of new business models and pedagogic approaches that take full advantage of digital technologies.

The critical discourse emerging around MOOCs is providing an opportunity for institutions to develop a more strategic approach to online learning. This includes enhancing existing classroom teaching practices, promoting institutional reputation and developing new revenue models. There are indications that some MOOCs are becoming more focussed on corporate training, which suggests that they may not pose a immediate threat to the existing pedagogical, revenue or business models of higher education institutions (HEIs). The number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will continue to grow with the development of credit bearing courses likely to be a trend.
The findings from this report are summarised in three sections: key themes that have emerged from the MOOC experiment, opportunities that institutions should consider exploring, and longer-term strategic considerations and likelihood that this will happen for institutions.
Three key themes emerge from the MOOC experiment:
i. Openness – new approaches to online learning, including models for scalable provision that may generate revenues, and promote open learning, which goes beyond institutional boundaries through the use of online communities. [Increasing impact & long term, likely for most institutions]
ii. Revenue models – different revenue models taking the established ideas from technology start-ups, such as applying the concepts of freemium and premium offers into online learning, providing institutions with new ways of thinking about marketing and income generation. [High impact & medium term, more likely for institutions looking for new revenue streams]
iii. Service Disaggregation – experimentation with business models that include unbundling and re-bundling of courses and delivery related services, such as offering paid for assessment and/or teaching and support, on top of free online course content. This may have a wider impact across institutions in the future through better deployment of existing resources to add value to customers where there is greatest benefit and to reduce costs through outsourcing (unbundling is already happening independently of MOOCs). [High impact & short term, likely for most institutions]

Institutions should consider exploring a set of opportunities that have been brought to the attention of mainstream education by MOOCs, and experiment with new approaches for developing technology-enabled changes in teaching and learning to improve opportunities for individual learners. These include:
i. Technology options – new platforms and services with different functions, terms and conditions for experimenting with the development of MOOCs and open online provision in institutions, including opening up an existing VLE, partnering with a commercial MOOC platform; or using an ad hoc collection of tools and services that are suitable for innovative experimentation. [Low impact & short term, likely for most institutions]
ii. Pedagogic opportunities – for educators to experiment and evaluate different online learning approaches by developing and using MOOCs that challenge the established roles of learner and teacher and offer more flexible forms of learning and assessment that include community as well as content-based models of learning. For some, experimentation will be at the level of the individual lecturer and for others it may be departmental or large-scale cross-institutional change projects. [Medium impact & medium term, likely for some types of institutions]
iii. Learner choices – developing new and affordable ways for learners to access courses and materials with the possibility of study for credits that are affordable and flexible. A starting point that is not based on existing courses can be a less constraining way of exploring new approaches. [High impact & short term, likely for some institutions]

Institutions are operating in an environment of increased marketisation and global competition, increasing student demand, reduced central government funding and affordability issues for students. Institutions will have to make strategic choices about how they respond to the changing contexts in which they operate; depending on the starting point these will have short, medium and long-term implications:
i. Mission, purpose and values – taking full account of the significant wider changes in HEIs’ business environments that may require institutions to review how they interpret their mission, purpose and values when developing their strategic response. [Variable impact & long term, likely for most institutions]
ii. Strategic directions – using the new opportunities presented by rethinking MOOCs as a useful motivation for institutions to examine their current provision and think about ways in which they can change and diversify. However, failure to recognise the scale of this challenge may well derail any new strategic directions. For institutions with little experience of open and online provision, options for rapid development may be limited to forming partnerships with external organisations with the required capabilities. [High impact & long term, likely for most institutions]
iii. Capability building requirements – reviewing existing in-house capabilities including: technical infrastructure, academic and support staff working practices. If starting from a low base, these will require significant commitment to change and develop, in order to support new business models for online provision. [Variable impact & short term, likely for most institutions]
iv. Business model components – there is an opportunity for institutions to examine their current provision and think about ways in which they can change and diversify to develop new sustainable business models for open online provision that take as their starting point the needs of the learner rather than the interests of the institution. [High impact & medium term, likely for some institutions]


Survey of the State of Analytics in UK HE and FE institutions

Link: Survey of the State of Analytics in UK Higher and Further Institutions 2013 (pdf).
Link: Survey of the State of Analytics in UK Higher and Further Institutions 2013 (MS Word docx).

An informal survey was undertaken by Cetis in May and June 2013. Subscribers to a number of email circulation lists – with members coming largely from institutional IT, administration and educational technology responsibilities – were invited to respond.
The purpose of the survey was to:

  • Assess the current state of analytics in UK FE/HE.
  • Identify the challenges and barriers to using analytics.

Chart showing reported data sources for analytics

Chart showing reported data sources for analytics

For the purpose of the survey, we defined our use of “analytics” to be the process of developing actionable insights through problem definition and the application of statistical models and analysis against existing and/or simulated future data. In practical terms, it involves trying to find out things about an organisation, its products services and operations, to help inform decisions about what to do next.
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Engaging Developers in Standards Development; the Cetis Code Bash Approach

Link: Engaging Developers in Standards Development; the Cetis Code Bash Approach (PDF)
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A linear process in which a written standard is created and then implemented in software is liable to fail for many reasons arising both from the difficulty in writing a specification that is sufficiently precise and accurate while also allowing for necessary flexibility in use, and from the intrinsic complexity of the human activities and IT systems in which it will be realised. Engaging software developers in the standards development process has been found to be an effective means to improve the written standards, to enlarge the scope of practical interoperability between software, and to identify and share effective practice. Over a period of years, Cetis developed an approach to this kind of engagement which we called a “Code Bash”. This white paper outlines the motivation, typical outcomes and practicalities of running a Code Bash and is intended to motivate people working in either formal or informal standards-development settings to engage developers in the process and to provide them with some ideas to adapt to their own setting.
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MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education

Link: MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education (pdf)
Link: MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education (MS Word docx)

This report sets out to help decision makers in higher education institutions gain a better understanding of the phenomenon of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and trends towards greater openness in higher education and to think about the implications for their institutions. The phenomena of MOOCs are described, placing them in the wider context of open education, online learning and the changes that are currently taking place in higher education at a time of globalisation of education and constrained budgets. The report is written from a UK higher education perspective, but is largely informed by the developments in MOOCs from the USA and Canada. A literature review was undertaken focussing on the extensive reporting of MOOCs through blogs, press releases as well as openly available reports. This identified current debates about new course provision, the impact of changes in funding and the implications for greater openness in higher education. The theory of disruptive innovation is used to help form the questions of policy and strategy that higher education institutions need to address.

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Concepts and Standardization in Areas Relating to Competence

Link: Concepts and standardization in areas relating to competence (pdf)

Summary: This paper reviews terminology, motivation, history and current work in areas relating to skill or competence. Many useful services, clarifying pathways within and from education to employment, self-assessment, and selection would be facilitated by better standardization of the format in which related definitions are represented, and also by a standard approach to representing the structured sets often called frameworks. To be effective, information models underlying interoperability specifications must be based on common conceptual models; the authors propose one such model as a work in progress. The authors see the way forward as reaching greater consensus about the components of competence, including intended learning outcomes, agreement on a model for frameworks allowing reuse of and comparison between components in and between frameworks, and investigation of how requirements and claims for skill and competence can be coordinated in the light of common practice in recruitment.

Copyright © 2010 IGI Global
This paper appears in the International Journal of IT Standards and Standardization Research Vol. 8, No. 2, edited by Tore Hoel, Paul A. Hollins and Jan M. Pawlowski, editor-in-chief Kai Jakobs. Copyright 2010, IGI Global, Posted by permission of the publisher.

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The Future of Interoperability Standards in Education – System and Process

Link: The future of interoperability standards in education – system and process (pdf).

In January 2010, JISC CETIS organised a working meeting to bring together participants across a range of standards organisations and communities to look at the future of interoperability standards in the education sector. This paper summarises the views expressed by delegates at the meeting and presents relevant background information on present and future models for collaboration between open and informal communities and the formal standardisation system with particular reference to the current issues and barriers in specification and standard development and adoption processes. This summary also presents a series of suggestions on the possible directions of future interoperability standards in education.
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Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education

Link: Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education (pdf)

Higher education institutions around the world have been using the Internet and other digital technologies to develop and distribute teaching and learning for decades. Recently, Open Educational Resources (OER) have gained increased attention for their potential and promise to obviate demographic, economic, and geographic educational boundaries and to promote life-long learning and personalised learning. The rapid growth of OER provides new opportunities for teaching and learning, at the same time, they challenge established views about teaching and learning practices in higher education.
This briefing provides the background to the current development of and future trends around OER aimed at adding to our understanding, stimulating ongoing debate among the JISC community and developing a research agenda. The briefing is structured in three sections:

  • Discussion on the conceptual and contextual issues of Open Educational Resources.
  • A review of current OER initiatives: their scale, approaches, main issues and challenges.
  • Discussion on trends emerging in Open Educational Resources, with respect to future research and activities.

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Assessment Item Banks and Repositories

Link: Assessment item banks and repositories (html).
Link: Assessment item banks and repositories (doc).
Link: Assessment item banks and repositories (pdf).

This paper aims to inform those with an interest in repositories in general, and those with an interest in assessment item banks, about the similarities and differences between these two technologies, in order to enhance the potential for future interoperability. Specifically, it asks the question: to what extent may an assessment item bank be considered as a kind of repository, and following from this, to what extent can interoperability and minimisation of effort and resource be achieved in a manner beneficial to the related communities of interest around these technologies?
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Assessment item banks: an academic perspective

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Link: Assessment item banks: an academic perspective (pdf).

This paper discusses assessment item bank that can be used by academics to share assessment content within or across a range of institutions. The concept is not new, but technical developments now render such a resource far more attractive and realisable than ever before. The paper considers the rationale of electronic assessment systems and assessment item banks used in HE. Some aspects of interoperability technology, including IMS QTI (the specification for Question and Test Interoperability), are described and discussed. The main assessment systems being used in HE are described with some details of the question types supported and how well they interoperate with other systems.
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